This week, Marissa answers questions from our Director of Marketing, Kelley Lujan. She talks about her parents' influence and what keeps her motivated.

1. Knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would give to a younger you?

Record everything Mom and Dad tell you. Write down every single thing Mom says about finance. Record Dad's Vietnam stories that only come out after several beers. Commit all the genealogical stories to memory: the names and relationships of his family, my grandparents, his grandparents, Grandpa's time as a jazz musician, Vegas in the 60s. They're going to be gone before you're ready, and when they're gone, you're going to wish you remembered every little bit of this information and captured all the nuances of these stories now. And don't clean out your voicemail.

2. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world tomorrow, who would it be and why?

Anyone living or dead? My mom. Anyone living? That's harder. Maybe Anthony Bourdain. I really appreciate his work, and interviewing style, and I always thought it would be so fun to be on his team as a fixer or working his operations.

3. What is your biggest motivation to succeed and live the life you want to live?

The very real and recent revelation that the things we take for granted -- time with loved ones, being alive in general -- aren't guaranteed.

The frightening power of efficiency is that a single word, phone call, action, minute, hour or day can make your life or shatter it.

The only real currency, the only sure thing, is this moment right now. Make it count. And if you're lucky enough to get another moment after that, make that one count, too.

4. What is your biggest fear and how have you overcome it?

Since I was a little kid, I had this crazy fear of dying. I remember waking up in a panicked frenzy and running into my parents' room as a little kid, all because I remembered that one day I will die. I think I've cried at every fictional death scene I've read or seen, even in the worst movies ever.

Then after both of my parents died, I had a revelation: death is a part of the life cycle. I'm still not at all ready to think about the end of my life, but the irrational anxiety I used to have -- just worrying about a sure thing in the hopefully-distant future -- is gone.

I think it goes back to my last answer. If I'm living the life I want to be living, and really taking the best possible actions for each moment, there's no place for fear or anxiety -- just pride and appreciation.

5. What is one defining moment that has made you who you are today?

Wow, all of my answers today are about my parents, but honestly, losing both of them -- and last December, when my dad died just 18 months after my mom -- set up the defining moment that made everything else seem insignificant. It was when I decided to move into my childhood home, and voiced that to my husband Mike (who thankfully felt the same way!).

We had a concrete choice: sell it, stay in San Diego, and buy a condo or something... or relocate to a home of bittersweet memories (where I grew up, but also the actual location where both my parents died) and add to its history by making it our own. It was the tougher choice, but it was the only one that felt right.

Moving here, I realized my true passion: optimizing your physical environment to enable your best, most creative thinking. I don't think I would have ever had a revelation to this degree living anywhere else.

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